Eye care is healthcare, so it’s vital that employers offer the kinds of vision benefits employees are looking for. August is National Eye Exam Month, which makes now the perfect time to examine the vision benefits your company offers and ensure they match up to industry standards. It’s not too late to talk to your benefits partner about the vision benefits at your company to see if you want to make some changes before open enrollment. Here’s what you need to know about vision benefits.
High Value, High Demand
Simply put, employees value their eyesight. According to MetLife’s 2017 Employee Benefit Trends Study, more than half of employees classify vision as an essential benefit. The study also found that more employees consider vision care insurance more essential than short- or long-term disability insurance, critical illness insurance or accident insurance. Employees with limited funds are especially likely to say it’s an essential benefit.
And while interest in some benefits rises and falls depending on an employee’s age or career stage, vision benefits are seen as valuable by employees fairly consistently, the study found. In many ways, it’s seen as a kind of specialized health insurance, meant to both protect eyesight and treat any problems there may be.
Many voluntary benefits have seen growth in the past few years, and vision benefits are no exception. According to Eastbridge Consulting Group, vision benefits made up 5 percent of all voluntary benefits sales in 2014, and sales have grown every year since 2008.
There are several reasons for continued growth: As the workforce ages and baby boomers delay retirement, demand for vision care increases. In addition, increased use of digital devices — such as computers, smart phones and tablets — for both work and recreation have made eye strain and related ailments more common. Experts generally expect demand for vision benefits to continue to grow.
Many health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, can affect a person’s vision, and more plans are looking for ways to integrate vision coverage with core health benefits. A report from HCMS Group found that eye exams can even play a role in preventive health care and that people who have an annual comprehensive eye exam will likely enter the healthcare system sooner to get treatment for serious health issues.
To help employees integrate their vision and healthcare benefits, look for vision plans that offer condition-specific care, wider options for purchasing voluntary benefits services, and plans where vision care coordinates with larger health systems. Wellness plans that address lifestyle changes to address people living with diabetes or hypertension should include education about eye care and vision benefits as well. As vision care goes beyond fancy eyeglasses and Lasik surgeries, having an employee benefits plan that supports its role in overall healthcare will help employees get the most out of it.
Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.